THE Valencian town of Oliva has become the first in Spain to subsidise hunters up to €3,000 to shoot wild boar.
Hunters can justify subsidies by buying food for hunting dogs, paying vets to analyse meat for consumption, and hiring Proteccion Civil staff to help during the hunt.
Oliva’s councillor for agriculture, Miquel Domenech, said the subsidies were likely to ‘increase’ and further help with hunting wild boar.
“It’s become an extremely serious problem, and we’re hoping wild boar numbers will be declared a plague,” the councillor said.
He added that exploding wild boar populations were ruining crops across the municipality.
“The measures seek to reduce the density of wild boar in the environment and help the prevention and fight against diseases that can infect other livestock, such as the African swine flu and bovine tuberculosis.”
It comes as Spain has recorded a ‘demographic explosion’ in wild boar across the country, with 55% of municipalities in the Valencia region suffering ‘overpopulation’.
Spain’s ministry of agriculture (MAPA) recorded 373,225 wild boar caught and killed in 2018 – while estimates from Spain’s IREC institution say the country will be overrun with 2 million by 2025.
But there are also higher costs involved in actual hunting wild boar following an EU directive to inspect wild boar meat for trichinosis.
The measure increased the price of an analysis to €25-€30 per animal and meant not all vets had sufficient equipment to carry it out.
Furthermore, the numbers of actual licensed hunters in Spain has decreased 30% from 1,069,000 in 2005 to 743,600 in 2019.
While Valencia is not the only community to pay hunters – Catalunya also approved a law in 2021 to pay hunters between €12.50-€25 per head of wild boar – it has enacted some of the strictest laws to control populations.
Aside from extending hunting hours, Valencian laws enacted in November 2021 force hunters to go out even when they don’t want to.
“The new laws in the Valencian Community say you can have your licence suspended if you do not undertake 200 hunts [ganchos] every year,” Raul Esteban, president of Valencia’s hunter’s federation, said.
“It’s incredible. We are being ordered to hunt. Some people are going on hunts twice a day.”
“It’s a barbarity the number of wild boar in Valencia and nobody knows what to do with them – we’re seeing greater numbers of road accidents caused by wild animals too.”
According to 2020 figures from Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) road accidents caused by wild boar increased 47% in just two years.
In 2018, for example, wild boar caused 701 road accidents in which 10 people died, 58 were severely injured and 877 suffered minor injuries.
Aside from minimising road accidents, hunting contributed around €6.5 billion to Spain’s economy making up 0.3% of the GDP.
Hunting also directly or indirectly creates 200,000 jobs, especially in areas decimated by rural depopulation.
Ecologists, however, place the blame on the very hunters who wiped out populations of wolves, eagles and other predators in natural habitats.
Teo Berjuver, spokesperson for Ecologistas en Accion, said that wild boar overpopulation was ‘limited to certain times of year’ and not so generic as governments make out.
“Hunting was wiped our deer in certain areas, where their reintroduction has caused a spike in numbers,” he said.
Aside from wild boar and deer, rabbits are also causing havoc especially in northern Navarra.
The syndicate EHNE has asked the regional government for €150,000 to pay hunters to control rabbits who ‘camp out at leisure’ in farmers’ cereal crops.
“Some farmers don’t even sow crops anymore, because you can’t even get enough money to think about making financial claims,” said the EHNE’s coordinator Felipe Etxetikia.
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